Thursday, April 19, 2012

Taking off the blinders -or- going beyond The Oprah Show brand complex.

A friend who knows I want to get into ethnography research sent me an article based on a conversation we had. It turns out, it’s from Martin Lindstrom. A guy who may have a little bit of controversy surrounding him, but nonetheless, is excellent at what he does.  He talks about an honest interview he had with a consumer that stayed with him throughout the course of his career.  All he did was show up unannounced and met the real person. Not the person she had probably intended on him meeting.

I am a staunch believer that an effective interviewer works beyond building a rapport and tries to find reality. The you that wears a robe, wakes up with tart breath and thinks things you’ll never share out loud.  They’ll try to get to know the customer on all possible levels to impart the psychological matchmaking of your attitude with their brand.
My hunch is this lack of this customer/brand dimensionality is why the OWN network is hemorrhaging. Have you seen the Oprah show? It’s a lot!  (And I say that as someone whose clouds always have silver linings and realize that I’ll always be working to be a better person.) Swallowing that medicine for an hour is uplifting and aspirational. Experiencing that 24/7 is suffocating, preachy and damn near impossible to navigate. 
Don’t get me wrong, her brand is amazing.  Although I’m not a staunch follower, the woman has built a persona/celebrity brand that will educate marketers and image consultants for decades. The “rub” is branding should be about the feeling you get when engaging with the product, not the product itself. Engaging with Oprah for a couple of hours, or with a magazine I can set down, feels good. More than that, I can’t stop questioning who I am, what I do and if it’s good enough.
Do you know enough about your customers to see who they are in their robes as well as who they are dressed up? If not, I hope they only engage with your brand when on guard. If not, your brand integrity could be on the line.

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